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John Taylor

Angel of the Presence


by Ian Mann

February 02, 2006


A truly remarkable album. Immaculate.

Manchester born pianist John Taylor is one of the few British jazz musicians to be thought of as genuinely world class by critics beyond these shores. However, he has continued to be relatively unsung in his own country despite a high profile UK tour to celebrate his 60th birthday in 2002, and “artist in residence” status at Cheltenham Jazz Festival in 2004.

With interest in the piano trio as a format at an all time high with the likes of Esbjorne Svensson, Tord Gustafsen, Brad Mehldau and The Bad Plus all remarkably popular at the moment, now is the time for Taylor to enjoy some of the success in economic terms that is surely his due.

His playing ability has never been in doubt. Indeed, he has improved with age. His current trio with the great Swedish bassist Palle’ Danielsson and British drummer Martin France is probably his best yet. Danielsson was of course a member of Keith Jarrett’s landmark Scandinavian quartet of the 1970s.

The playing on the new album is truly sublime. Taylor’s melodic classically influenced playing flows beautifully and in the dextrous Danielsson and the subtle France he has the perfect accompanists. The fact that they surpass even their illustrious American predecessors ex Bill Evans, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron says it all. Danielsson and France are always listening, always thinking, always on the money.

Taylor has always had an affinity for the tunes of trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and two are featured here. “Sweet Dulcinea” and an old Taylor favourite “Introduction to No Particular Song”.

American bassist and composer Steve Swallow also contributes to two compositions “Up Too Late” and “Vaguely Asian” which both feature brilliant ensemble playing. Taylor’s own “In Cologne” is also excellent - the title deriving from the fact that he has been professor of jazz piano at the city’s music college since 1993.

On Taylor’s slower pieces such as “Dry Stone” his rhythm section are immaculate in their support and mood building.

Released on the Italian Cam Jazz label this really is excellent, and following on from critical acclaim in ‘The Guardian’, and a UK tour, it deserves to sell well. It’s outstanding quality should also see it feature in the end of season awards.

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